Supreme Court Issues Notice On PIL To Debar Persons Against Whom Charges Have Been Framed In Serious Offences From Elections
The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday sought the responses from the Union of India, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Election Commission of India (ECI), in a petition moved by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking to debar those persons against whom charges have been framed in serious offences, from contesting in elections. As an alternative, the plea seeks to direct the ECI to amend...
The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday sought the responses from the Union of India, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Election Commission of India (ECI), in a petition moved by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking to debar those persons against whom charges have been framed in serious offences, from contesting in elections.
As an alternative, the plea seeks to direct the ECI to amend the Election Symbols (Reservation & Allotment) Order 1968 and insert an additional condition for the State or National Party to debar candidates if there are charges registered against them in serious offences.
A Division bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy considered the matter.
The petition filed in this regard stated that in 1999, the Law Commission in its 170th report, suggested many measures to regulate the functioning of political parties. But the Centre failed to implement it.
In 2002, the National Commission to review the working of the Constitution (Venkatachaliah Committee) submitted detailed suggestions to regulate the functioning of political parties and decriminalise politics. But the Centre remained ignorant, the petition said, while adding that similar reports were authored by ECI and Law Ministry.
The plea pointed out that the Supreme Court in 2018, had recommended to bring in a law for decriminalisation of politics.
Highlighting the severity of the situation, the petition also gave detailed figures to strengthen its case.
"There is an increase of 44% in the number of MPs with declared criminal cases since 2009. Similarly, 159 winners (29%) winners in the Lok Sabha 2019 Elections have declared serious criminal cases including cases related to rape, murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, crimes against women etc. Out of 542 winners analysed during Lok Sabha Elections in 2014, 112 (21%) winners had declared serious criminal cases against themselves."
Permitting criminals to contest elections and become legislators will have serious ramifications and affect the country's democracy and secularism, the plea asserted. Also, during the electoral process, they deploy enormous amounts of illegal money in attempt to influence voters and intimidate rival candidates, the plea pointed out.
If such a direction is passed, It won't go against the respective candidate's presumption of innocence as well, the petition said.
"By raising the threshold to the stage, where charges have already been framed before the restriction will operate, the chances are considerably reduced of false cases being maliciously foisted on the candidate or that there is no substance in the case against him."
Also, the additional protection envisaged by the Law Commission of India in its 244th report is that charges should be framed at least one year before the scrutiny of nominations. This gives the candidate time to move the High Court under Section 482 of the CrPC or under Article 226 for quashing the charges against him, the plea added.
Case Title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay Versus Union Of India And Ors | W.P.(C) No. 1142/2020 Pil-W